A Springtime Cookie Using Baker’s Ammonia (Hartshorn)

by connie on March 3, 2017

Another use for Hartshorn

Are you wondering what other uses there are for your hartshorn? (Remember that hartshorn, baker’s ammonia and ammonium carbonate are all the same ingredient.) Although my first use of baker’s ammonia was for Springerle, I have learned that there are many Swedish cookie recipes that use ammonium carbonate. I recently ran across a brochure of cookie recipes submitted to House on the Hill in the early 1990’s. Many of those recipes are Scandinavian in origin.

Here’s one of those cookie recipes that is NOT a molded cookie, but an easy cookie using baker’s ammonia as the leavening ingredient. I note that, like my grandmother’s Springerle recipe, it calls for dissolving the baker’s ammonia. And, I will caution you again to not eat raw dough made with baker’s ammonia.

This recipe creates a light , crisp coconut cookie that you can put together and bake in short order. The recipe is from “Kitchen Kapers”, a collection of recipes from the Women’s Guild of the Edison Park Lutheran Church in Chicago.

Princess Gems

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ammonium carbonate dissolved in 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 2 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Have lightly greased baking sheets ready.

Cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla, salt and ammonium carbonate mixture. Add flour, mixing until combined.

Shape into 1 inch ball and place about 1 inch apart on baking sheets, flattening slightly with your fingers. Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Makes about 48 cookies.

Connie’s Baking notes: I used my 1 inch (outside diameter scoop) and got 59 cookies. I baked them for 12 minutes with nice results.

Try it. The hartshorn makes a lighter  texture that would baking powder. See if you agree.

Happy Baking,

Connie

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3 Must Have Tools

by connie on November 21, 2016

There are three tools that I find indispensable for making Springerle cookies.Those three tools are a pastry brush, a dough scraper and an offset spatula. In the past 3 days I made more than 400 Springerle cookies for an upcoming event and these tools made my job so much more efficient. Sure, you can make Springerle cookies without these utensils, but you will use them for so many baking functions, you will be doubly glad to have them in your kitchen.

Firstly, a pastry brush, probably a tool you have in your kitchen drawer, is what you need to brush flour onto your cookie mold for every single pressing. But be sure to have a bristle pastry brush and dedicate this one to dry (flour, confectioner’s sugar) brushing only. Use another brush for wet (melted butter, oil, sauces) only. You can also use this pastry brush to dust flour lightly on your dough work surface.

Once you have a dough scraper,  you will wonder how you ever baked without having this tool at hand. I use it it to make nice clean cuts on multiple Springerle molds and rectangular shaped molds. I use it to scrape my work surface to keep it clear of dough bits. It is great for dividing dough or pastry into portions for shaping or chilling. This is the tool I use to slice my cinnamon rolls too. Cleaning up your dough or pastry working surface is a breeze when you scrape your surface with a pastry scraper before wiping with a wet dishrag or sponge.

Your pancake turner works just fine to transfer cookies. But an offset spatula that has been slipped through flour easily transfers the pressed raw cookies to a parchment lined cookie sheet. If the cookies are small you can get a line of 3 or 4 cookies on the spatula a time. Same goes for removing the baked cookies from the cookie sheet to the cooling rack.

You will especially enjoy the value of these tools during a busy baking time.

Happy Baking!   Connie

 

 

 

 

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Cleaning Cookie Presses

by connie on August 8, 2016

 

So you’ve made a few batches of pressed cookies and they are safely drying on the dining room table. The work is not over. It’s time to clean your cookie molds. You want to treat both original wood carvings and resin/wood molds just as you would any fine wood product.Read on. Of course it is easier to clean them right after use, but I’ll give you some tips in case you let the dough dry into the corners of the carving too.

BrushSoapyWaterStart by preparing a bowl of warm soapy water and collecting some terrycloth towels and a mushroom brush. The mushroom brush is a soft bristled brush that has enough surface area  to clean more square inches at a time, but you can also use a soft bristled toothbrush. Just make sure it’s soft so you don’t scratch the surface of your cookie mold. NEVER soak the molds in the water.

ScrubMoldDip the brush into the soapy water. Gently, but thoroughly scrub the floury mold with the brush. Turn the mold in all four directions to get into the carving at different angles. Keep scrubbing until you think you have gotten every crevice.

 

 

Do the same for larger and/or multiple image molds. You will just have more surface area to scrub.

 

 

RinseMold

 

 

 

Rinse the cookie mold under warm running water. Remember DO NOT SOAK  the molds. Over exposure to water will soften the finish on the mold, just as it would on your wooden furniture.

 

 

CheckforDough

 

Now check  for stubborn spots of dough you may have missed. Or you may have cookie molds that have dried dough in them from previous use. Drip a drop of water on the spot, let it soften for a minute.

 

CleanWithToothpick

 

 

With a round wooden toothpick, gently pick out the dough. Do not use flat toothpicks (they splinter easily) or metal tools such as skewers or needles (they scratch the surface of the molds). Repeat the drop of water again if needed. Repeat gentle scrubbing and rinsing until the mold is clean.

 

PatTerryTowelPat the rinsed mold with a terrycloth towel being sure to push into the deep parts of the carving. I use cotton terrycloth shop cloths that I buy at a big box store.

 

 

 

LayOnTowel

 

Lay the clean molds on a dry terrycloth. You can put the terrycloth towel on a cooling rack for better air circulation, especially if you have many molds to dry and the weather is humid.

 

Let the molds dry completely. Overnight is good. You never want to store the molds with any moisture on them. If you store the molds in sealed bags or containers, any moisture remaining will harm the finish. I have many molds that I hang on my wall, and others that I store in bubble bags placed in plastic totes. However you store them, store them DRY.

Good care of your cookie molds will make them last years and removing dried dough from the recesses of the mold will yeild clearer cookie prints.

 

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Summer Weather Cooperates

by connie on June 29, 2016

I got lucky with the weather this week. I often have to force summer into autumn by turning the thermostat to lower numbers and cranking the dehumidifier into high gear. Two cooler days with night temperatures in the 50’s led to a double batch frenzy of Springerle pressing. I am needing some cookies for photography and am so happy to open the windows and turn off the air conditioner for this task. I didn’t have time for a dip in the pool anyway. And I won’t mind turning on the oven.

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Easter Arrives Early

by connie on March 17, 2016

Blog3172016EASTERCOOKIE-copy

Easter really comes up fast when it is in late March. The weather might not fully cooperate for those planned Easter Egg hunts. While my children were always so delighted with snow in December, snow was not so welcome at Easter. Oh to miss the fun of the egg hunt was such a disappointment! Outdoor hunts were so much more fun and longer events than the indoor variety. Just in case, bake some cookies to paint for Easter. You can bake them now, store in highly sealed cookie tins to paint next week. Or if it happens to be cold and wet, get out the aprons, the old sheets and let the kids paint cookies on their spring break. Think daffodils, sunshine and new beginnings.

For a review my tutorial on how to paint cookies with gel colors http://www.springerlecookies.com/2014/03/needed-spring-color/

Celebrate the beauty of spring,

Connie

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It’s Really, Really Cold!

by connie on January 5, 2015

Yes, it is really cold here in Chicagoland and that means it’s perfect for making Springerle (or any cookies for that matter). So put on your wool socks and make some cookie making plans. These are perfect conditions for drying Springerle cookies and then turning on that oven the next day.

Generally, the weather in January is more cooperative than November and December. And most of us have more time then we had then too. And it’s a great reason to put off doing your taxes too!

Happy Baking!

Connie

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Wedding Time

by connie on July 31, 2014

I made orange flavored Springerle for my nephew’s wedding this weekend. I used the Rustic Victorian mold since the wedding will be at a cabin in the woods. Now the celebration!

Enjoy the rest of the summer, Connie

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This Old Mixer

by connie on June 30, 2014

ThisOldMixerPretty soon,  I am going to have to say “Good Bye!” to this old mixer. It’s a Kitchen Aid made by Hobart.  I am pretty sure this mixer is from the mid to late 70’s, but with no serial number, it is hard to pinpoint the year. Based on a google search, the Model K5-A mixer has been in production since the 40’s and the white cord indicates the late 70’s.

I can hear its motor straining, especially when I make Springerle dough. This old mixer’s zip and speed is gone. Several weeks ago I cut down the batch to two thirds size to relieve the strain on the motor. I tried to buy additional bowls and beaters more than 10 years ago and this bowl size was not available even then. It will be bittersweet, because the mixer has given me many baking memories, including family baking favorites and my ownership of House on the Hill  Cookie Molds. I can’t imagine having made all the Springerle cookies I’ve made over the last 20 plus years for family, friends, photography shoots, classes, and Open House samples if I had to have made them without a high powered standard mixer like this one.

It has been a workhorse in my kitchen for many years and I have given it a good run. More than a good run really, because I have abused the thing by using it for Springerle dough more than anything else. It was given to me, used, in the early 1990’s  and I was so very grateful to have such a wonderful tool – one that I would have been unlikely to purchase for myself. At that time, I did a lot of baking for bake sales, ball games and for my children’s activities. And it was during this same period that  I became a serious baker of Springerle, as my grandmother was not able to make Springerle cookies anymore. In 1993, I submitted my grandmother’s recipe and sample cookies to the annual Chicago Tribune holiday cookie contest and was one of the winners that year. And thus began a series of Springerle related events in my life, leading to my purchase of House on the Hill, and of course, this blog.

And so, I think in July , I will be buying a new Kitchen Aid Mixer. I will be looking for an 8 quart instead of a 6 quart bowl, and I am going to want that very low speed feature that I have used in teaching kitchens when travel teaching. I am going to get an extra bowl and extra beaters. I might even go for a red mixer; not quite sure about that yet. But I won’t forget you, my old mixer. You have been with me for a long time, and you have eased my work load on many an occasion. People have praised my cookies and you went without accolades. But I have been thankful to have such a great tool in my kitchen. Hmmmmm…..I’m not even sure I will say “good bye” , maybe just put you on light duty!

Wishing you warm baking memories too! Connie

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Marzipan Topped Cake

by connie on April 24, 2014

TwiningVineCakeMarzipanThis Twining Vine rolling pin is a beautiful implement  that is a replica of a  pin circa 1550. It is hard to know precisely the original intention the carver  had in mind for this lovely tool, but it seems likely that it was meant for decorative confections of fondant and marzipan to embellish cakes. I have   used it for fondant placed around the side of a cake and for marzipan placed    on the top of a long narrow cake. And too, I have used it for gingerbread tile cookies that I first saw in cookbook “Tartine” by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and    Chad Robertson, a collection of recipes from the San Francisco bakery  of the same name.

But until now, I have not recorded either process. So, here is a step by step instruction for making a very impressive  cake with a marzipan topper made with this rolling pin. This post has instructions for a white cake with raspberry jam filling, but there are so many possibilities. A spice or pumpkin cake with no filling. A white cake with lemon filling. A quick bread brown sugar loaf studded with chopped almonds and topped with decorative marzipan. You will think of some other flavor combinations that you like!

MakingCake1Select a rectangular plate to use, so that the cake can be cut into the correct  size. Bake a sheet cake or 9 x 13 inch cake. Consider the plate that you have; if your plate is longer, go the sheet cake route. If you want thicker layers, make a  9 x13 inch cake; thinner layers, make a sheet  cake. I baked a 9 x 13 inch white cake and added almond oil to complement the marzipan topper that will be added. I cut the cooled cake into two pieces an inch shorter (11 inches for the shown cake) than the length of the plate  (just the flat surface part of the plate) and the width of the rolling pin design.

marzipancakestep2Spoon some seedless raspberry jam into a microwave safe dish and heat just    until warm to make the jam more spreadable. If you are going to transport      the cake you may anchor the cake to the plate with a few dabs of frosting.   Place one  cake layer onto the plate and spread the warm jam on that layer. Place the second cake layer on top of the jam. (You could also use any seedless jam of your choice, lemon curd or chocolate filling in between these layers.)

 

marcakeStep4You will need one can of marzipan (11 oz. and there will be almost none left)   or 2 tubes which are usually 8 oz. each. You will need a flat rolling pin, confectioner’s sugar and a pastry brush. It is a bit easier to work with extra marzipan, so you may want to get more. (If you have leftover marzipan, cut        it into small pieces and add to brownie batter to make delicious marzipan brownies or get out some small cookies molds and form some marzipan confections. You could also let the kids make marzipan animals!)

 

MarCakeStep7Knead the marzipan into a smooth rectangular mass. Brush the Twining     Vine rolling pin generously with confectioner’s sugar. Also brush the work       surface and the flat rolling pin with confectioner’s sugar. Roll out the    marzipan into a half inch thick strip wide enough for the width of the rolling pin and 2 to 3 inches longer the the strips of cake you cut. Roll the prepared Twining Vine rolling pin down the length of the marzipan with steady   pressure and don’t stop rolling once you start. A continuous roll will help ensure that the pressure is more consistent.

 

MarCakeStep8Cut a straight edge at one end of the printed marzipan and along the sides. Use a ruler and cut the other end so that the marzipan is the same size as your cake layers. Brush the top of the cake layer with corn syrup; the corn syrup will serve as glue to adhere the marzipan. Place the marzipan strip on top of the cake. If there is some confectioner’s sugar that has not absorbed into the marzipan, brush the powdery areas with a slightly wet pastry brush. To transport cake, place a few toothpicks through all layers to keep them in place. If you wish,   you may add some fresh or artificial flowers to the cake plate as a finishing touch, as shown in the top photo. Cut the cake slices with a serrated knife.

Enjoy! Smile!

 

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Needed: Spring Color

by connie on March 21, 2014

GroupPtdCookiesIt’s still too chilly to check the ground for emerging bulbs and besides, there’s still a lot of snow cover in shady spots, and some snow is predicted for next week too. So, let’s just pretend that spring will be here soon and rush it a bit by bringing some color into our lives. It’ll be fun to paint some colorful cookies to cheer us out of the winter doldrums. And before we know it  we will be complaining about the heat.

PtgBunniesToolsYou will need some molded cookies (Lemon Springerle would be a refreshing spring choice) that you have already baked and cooled. And collect a bottle of triple sec (orange flavored liquor that you might have around to make margaritas), a small low dish (sometimes I use a large bottle cap), some small brushes that are dedicated to food use, some styrofoam plates to use as palettes and some gel food coloring. A few paper towels or rags that you don’t mind ruining with food color  will be handy too.

Once you have assembled all your tools, squirt out a small drop of  each color you wish to use on the styrofoam plate and pour some triple sec into the small dish. You will be using the triple sec as a painting medium, instead of water. The alcohol will evaporate rather than soak into the  cookie, so your Springerle will not get soggy and it also has some thickness to it, because of the sugar, which makes it easier to control when you are painting the cookies. I chose to use just four colors for this cookie: yellow, green, rose pink and brown. Iput a little white gel color on the plate in case I wanted pastels, but in the end I did not use the white, but just thinned down the gel colors with the triple sec.

PtgBrownIt is kind of like color book coloring. Or paint by number, since there is no drawing to be done. You pick one element of the design and fill in that area with color. I started with brown by wetting my brush with triple sec and mixing in some brown gel and then painted in the basket section. If it seemed to dark, I immediately added a little triple sec to my brush. For this large area I used a small flat brush. I chose to use the same brown gel for the body of the rabbits, just adding more triple sec to make a lighter shade of brown, again, if it seemed to dark, adding more triple sec. Using this technique, I was able to get some variation in the browns to make the already three dimensional surface seem even more dimensional. You can also go back and add a little more brown to add shaded areas.  Next, I painted in the grass. I thought the green to be too green (St. Patrick’s Day is behind us) and with spring in mind , mixed a little yellow into the bright green to create a nice lime green and using yet more  triple sec ,to keep it light handed, painted the grass and leaves.

PtgPinkYellow

Now the roses were painted rose pink and the eggs yellow. I also painted the heart held by the bunnies with a very pale pink, having thinned down the same pink gel with lots of triple sec. I use a small round brush on these smaller elements. I also used some brown with not much triple sec to accent the eyes. I do have some experience in painting, so am very comfortable painting. If you have never done this, it will take just some practice. So be patient and take time to have fun with this. Don’t forget that this is a cookie and some cookie monster is going to snarf it right down. Experiment with how much triple sec to use. Try out the colors on a reject cookie or on the back of a cookie. And use a light touch. Try to hold the brush somewhat loosely in your hand. Keep your brush clean by whisking it in the triple sec and dabbing it on the paper towel. Repeat as necessary. I most often find it is best to stick with 3 or 4 colors and to leave some ares unpainted.

SinglePaintedCookieWhen I began photographing the plate of cookies, I noticed that I had missed the egg in the center of the basket, and so painted it yellow before I took those photos. No fretting; remember that you are celebrating the coming of spring. By keeping it simple and only using a few colors, you will be able to paint more cookies faster. If you want to paint a lot of cookies in the same manner, you could do it assembly style. In explanation, paint 20 baskets, then all the bunnies, then the grass, etc. See the finished cookie at right, well, except for the one middle egg. You can certainly make the cookie a couple of weeks before you serve them, paint a few samples to get get process down, then store the cookies and paint them a day or so before you serve them.

Very Pretty!

 

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